The app is free and available to anyone based in South Africa.
Using the app is easy. All you have to do is:
- Download it
- Enable notifications and Bluetooth
- Let the app run in the background
- Encourage your friends and family to do the same.
That’s pretty much it!
Your identity will always remain private. The app will take care of the rest and:
- Send you an exposure notification if you’re ever in close contact with another app user who tests positive for COVID-19
- Tell you how to limit the spread of COVID-19 to others
- Tell you how to manage your health and track any COVID-19 symptoms.
Here’s a bit more detail:
COVID ALERT SA is part of COVIDConnect – the National Department of Health’s digital COVID-19 response platform. The app is built on Apple and Google’s exposure notification framework and it’s been designed to protect your identity and security.
The app makes Bluetooth-powered contact tracing possible.
What does this mean?
Contact tracing refers to getting hold of people who have recently been in close contact with someone who has tested positive for COVID-19. We do this to let them know that they may have been exposed to the disease, so that they can self-quarantine, monitor their symptoms and prevent the spread of the disease to others (especially those considered high-risk for serious illness or death from COVID-19).
Why do we need an app to assist with this process?
Normally, contact tracing happens manually. Healthcare workers interview the person who tested positive to make up a list of people they’ve had close contact with over the past 14 days. Its time-consuming and generates an often-incomplete list of people to reach out to. That’s because it’s hard to remember everyone we were near to. And, we can’t identify those we were close to while standing in a queue or while using public transport.
COVID ALERT SA removes the need for us to remember any of these details and makes the contact tracing process far more thorough. It does this by letting app users’ devices talk to each other.
The app uses Bluetooth signals to exchange what are called “random codes” (random numbers that change every so often) with other smart phone app users, when they come within close proximity of each other. It’s like the devices have given each other a digital handshake. The random codes exchanged at the time of “digital hand-shaking” are stored in a log on each phone for 14 days.
1. If you test positive for COVID-19, you can choose to enter your unique PIN (it’s sent to you via SMS from the National Department of Health with your test result), as well as date of birth, into the app. Remember - you always remain anonymous. You’ll also get advice on what to do next to manage your health and to self-isolate.
2. The app will ask you for permission to share random codes stored on your phone with a central server.
3. Other smartphones using the COVID Alert SA app check the central server periodically, throughout the day. Those devices that have random codes on record matching the codes shared to the central server by your device, will receive a notification that the device user (an anonymous fellow member of the app community) has had potential exposure to COVID-19 over the prior 14 days. And, there’s plenty of advice on what to do next to monitor symptoms, to choose to self-quarantine and more.
It’s clear that by joining this app you’re becoming a member of a powerful community of people who want to work together to Stay Safe, save lives and turn the tide on COVID-19 in our beautiful country! The power is in your hands. Join the COVID ALERT SA community today. Let’s all play our part in keeping one another safe.